(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

A very severe, unprecedented event took place earlier today. A Kassam rocket landed in the heart of Ashkelon, on the Ronson High School. This is an unprecedented and severe escalation in the terrorist war being waged by Hamas, which currently controls the Palestinian Authority.

I say here and now: This action, this attack, this criminal attempt that was intended to harm Israeli citizens living within the sovereign State of Israel, will have unprecedented and far-reaching consequences. Hamas will be the first to feel this.

For several days, we have been struggling to bring about the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit. This is not easy. I know how difficult it is for his parents, for his sister Hadas, for his brother Yoel, for the entire family and for the entire Jewish people. We will do everything to bring Gilad back home safe and sound. We will act with full force but we will not give in to extortion by murderers. We will not agree to accede to the brutal and baseless demands of those who wish to see Gilad Shalit as a representative example of additional victims that they would attempt to use to blackmail the State of Israel and to undermine the foundations of our existence. We will be strong like the members of his family. We will show restraint like his parents, who have won our respect and admiration.  We will be patient. We will fight terrorism. We will free Gilad and we will defeat them.